The Cambridge Analytica-Facebook data mining and data security issue has stirred the entire world in many ways and the reactions from different corners are flying thick and fast. Social media platforms are coming under intense scrutiny and many questions are being asked. One of them relates to the data being collected by WhatsApp through its newly introduced UPI based payments gateway.
The question raised was whether WhatsApp shares the data on its payment platform with its parent company Facebook. The earlier impression was that this was indeed happening. But now, WhatsApp has issued a clarification that such sharing does not happen and even if in some cases such information is shared it is not with any commercial purpose and that it was only done to make the individual’s information more secure. Apart from NCPI and the financial institution or bank that makes the payment, the data is not shared with anyone, according the instant messaging company.
As reported earlier, WhatsApp has launched its digital payment facility, using the Unified Payments Interface UPI, for its Indian customers, but only to a limited number of subscribers. It may now make it available to everyone probably soon.
The National Payments Commission of India (NPCI), which oversees the operation of UPI, has clearly laid down that sharing of customer data by banks which make the payments through such third-party apps cannot be done without obtaining its written consent.
The payment firms have been under the microscope of the regulators for some time now. The Reserve Bank of India has already mandated that these firms have to store all data relating to payments in servers located within India and has given them limited time to comply if they are storing it outside. There is pressure from the user groups to enact appropriate data privacy laws in the country. The complaint is that in the absence of a proper legislation, these firms have been making huge profits by misusing the personal data collected and commercially exploiting it.
The government, on its part, says a 10-member committee headed by Supreme Court justice B.N. Srikrishna has been constituted to go into the data privacy issue and to come up with the draft regulations or a legislation.